Are Minnesotans Uninviting To Outsiders?
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The concept of "Minnesota Nice" has proven an effective marketing tool, but also opens the door for criticism. Is the proof in the pudding, as a typical Minnesotan might ask?
Like clockwork, residents here are engaging in one more dose of heavy self-examination as of late. If it's not our mock outrage at a New York Times article throwing shade™ at our homegrown Honeycrisp apple, it's yet another showdown between natives and the North Star State-residing transplants who say we've got work to do when it comes to laying out the welcome mat.
The WCCO newsroom has its share of born-and-bred Minnesotans and recent arrivals, so we tasked them to respond to the challenge. Are Minnesotans inviting to outsiders? If not, how can they improve?
It should be disclosed that, in typical Minnesota fashion, the majority "politely" declined to comment on the matter.
Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV anchor
I'm a transplant and have the best friends I've ever had here in Minnesota. Rarely do I get invited over. So what!? I've invited myself into the lives of most of my best friends here and I'm glad I have. Some people struggle. I don't deny their truth. But I do encourage a little self-examination. And I encourage you to be a little aggressive and invite yourself in. I've lived here for 12 years. Minnesotans don't need to invite anyone in. Minnesotans are great. Newcomers need to step up and invite themselves in. Take a risk. Ask to go to dinner with someone.
Mike Augustyniak, WCCO-TV meteorologist
For years after moving here, I thought "What's wrong with me?!" because so few people would follow up on initial plans to get together. It's an ongoing issue for me even today; but, as I started meeting other transplants, I realized they have same feelings. I'd like to start a support group. To me, it seems Minnesotans don't mix friend groups -- high school friends don't mix with college friends, college friends don't mix with work friends, and, if you moved here, you mix with no friends. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general, I'd say "Minnesotans will give you directions anywhere ... except to their house for dinner."
Kim Johnson, WCCO-TV anchor
I think we can all try harder. If you know of a co-worker, neighbor or someone at church who doesn't have family here, invite them over for Thanksgiving!
Mike Binkley, WCCO-TV anchor
I think Minnesotans are generally nice, polite and willing to chip in when they see a need. But they're also satisfied to have just a few close relationships. When I moved here in 1986, it took a while to break into anyone's circle. But as a native Midwesterner, I didn't want people to get too close to me either.
Katie Fraser, WCCO.com
I think Minnesotans confuse the idea of nice and the idea of kindness. The idea behind "Minnesota Nice" is true. Nowhere else will you have as many sidewalk conversations with strangers about the beautiful weather we're having, or chats with grocery store clerks about the outrageous increase in the price of eggs. Nice. Minnesotans will smile and ask how you are, but they don't want a real answer. While it's nice to smile and say hello, it would be kind to extend a lunch or happy hour invitation to a new person. I'm not sure whether it's the Scandinavian culture and some history of shyness or if historically speaking you didn't share with your neighbors for survival reasons during the winter, but most Minnesotans are not interested in extending a hand to someone they don't know. But I don't think it's fair to put it all on Minnesotans' shoulders.
Matt Brickman, WCCO-TV meteorologist
I think Minnesotans are friendly and welcoming but not necessarily "inviting." My advice to Minnesotans would be: a "welcome-to-the-neighborhood" hotdish is nice, but an invitation into your home is more valuable. This is a pretty fair description of the reality, but who the heck has the time or money to pursue friends so aggressively?
Chris Shaffer, WCCO-TV meteorologist
"Minnesota Nice" is things like holding a door open for strangers, donating to great causes, volunteerism, etc. We crush at that stuff. I hear outsiders complain that Minnesotans don't let them into their inner circles, that we stick with our childhood/high school/college buddies. Sorry, but a new friend isn't at the same level as one you've had for 20, 30, 40 years. Outsiders need to change their expectations. I think you find this situation everywhere. We should all do our best to be good people. Invite others to things ... and be someone that others want to invite to those events.
Kylie Bearse, WCCO-TV meteorologist
I totally understand why someone may not be looking for more friends - there's hardly time to see the ones you have! But if you do reach out to a transplant, even for a quick lunch or drink, you'd be amazed how much we'd appreciate the gesture and you may even have some fun, too!
Eric Henderson, WCCO.com
This whole conversation seems, to me, an extension of Minnesotans' propensity toward exceptionalism. Ergo, if someone says we're not the best at something, that must mean they're saying we're the worst. And, of course, either option would be preferable to being thought of as garden-variety mediocre, to being told that we're not so special. That being said, I do think Minnesotans take an inordinate amount of pride in being socially self-sufficient. I feel like we all collectively need to be told once in a while that it's OK to need other people.
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